“Technology can definitely be put to good use, and I think we’ll see more and more of that innovation in the future. And even in areas where technology hasn’t been accessible before, I think they will feel the impact one way or another. And I definitely see that as a growing trend in the coming period,” said Raghavan Miloni Bhatt, Editor – Digital Broadcast, EconomicTimes.com, during his keynote interview on day one of the summit.
Speaking at the ET Soonicorns Summit, an initiative by EconomicTimes.com to celebrate the league of India’s future unicorns and unleash their full potential, Kumara also discussed the important role played by the country’s growing number of disruptive startups, including those from Tier-2 markets, will play a part in powering the next Techade for India. “You see a lot of innovation coming from these Tier 2 cities, including in areas like artificial intelligence, climate technologies and IoT. The growth of startups and startup initiatives in these small cities in India is not only proving effective for startup founders and entrepreneurs, but these cities themselves are reaping the significant benefits due to the advances happening in their backyards,” Raghavan said.
Sectors developing some of the most innovative products and solutions include fintech and software-as-a-service (SaaS), two areas that are also seeing the greatest interest and investment from investors. Additionally, AWS continues to be excited about the amount of innovation taking place due to artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, Raghavan said.
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Edited excerpts from the interview:
EconomicTimes.com: During the pandemic, companies were forced to go digital and move from optimized computing to cloud computing, and now companies are realizing the agility, flexibility, and scalability that cloud offers. Can you give us a sense of how the way companies approach and leverage their business in the cloud has changed between the pre-pandemic and post-pandemic era?
Kumara Raghavan: The pandemic has been quite a life changing experience for all of us. As everyone turns to digital avenues for their daily grocery shopping needs or even their educational needs, digital services have been adopted as the standard very quickly. This led to companies migrating from on-premises computing to cloud computing to support their rapid, technology-driven growth. Cloud computing has made a major contribution to this rapid pace of digitization worldwide, especially in the last two years. So we see the day-to-day benefits that technology offers all the time.
Market forecasts from an IDC report predict that India’s public cloud services market will reach $13.5 billion by 2026. This would make India one of the fastest growing public cloud services markets overall. Also, startups have played a huge role in the adoption of cloud services in India. Everyone wants to lower their costs, and the cloud is a great way to do that, but the benefit really lies in the kind of agility that the cloud offers.
EconomicTimes.com: Companies are realizing the importance of digital technology post-pandemic and many of them are investing in AI or trying to invest in AI. Can you give us a sense of how these products have been adopted and specific sectors or industries where you might see an unexpected interest in AI?
Kumara Raghavan: We’re pretty excited about machine learning technology, and so are our startup clients. India is a growing economy and we see the scope for AI and ML becoming very broad. Originally it was used as a mechanism to increase efficiency, but now you are seeing a tremendous amount of innovation in this area as well. There is significant momentum in adopting ML across all industries, be it healthcare, gaming, edtech or fintech.
So the way we look at AI and ML consists of three layers. At the first level, we look at the fundamental infrastructure that goes into building an AI/ML capability. The second layer of technology is what we call Amazon SageMaker – it’s a fully managed machine learning service that helps data scientists and developers prepare, build, train, and deploy high-quality ML models by providing a wide range of capabilities merges. And then we have a number of pre-built offerings like Amazon Textract that automatically extract text, handwriting, and data from scanned documents.
EconomicTimes.com: Recent government data shows that over 50% of startups come from Tier II and Tier III cities. There are also other trends we’ve seen during the pandemic, like working from home and the gig economy. Aside from creating demand for services and products, how do you see these trends and markets that are really driving India’s economic promise?
Kumara Raghavan: India is definitely going through a very steady but very unique trend of experienced professionals and startup founders moving from metros to Tier 2 cities. And you’re seeing a lot of innovation coming out of these Tier 2 cities, including in areas like artificial intelligence, climate technologies, and IoT. The growth of startups and startup initiatives in these small cities in India has not only proven to be effective for startup founders and entrepreneurs, but these cities themselves are reaping the significant benefits due to the advancements taking place in their backyard. So there is clearly a very strong dynamic in the startup ecosystem from the Tier 2 cities. And we work with founders to ensure they have the resources to build their businesses with full access to the length and breadth of AWS services.
EconomicTimes.com: Tech is considered the key to solving so many of the world’s problems. But while technology can accelerate progress, it can potentially exacerbate inequalities. How do we push technology for good, especially in India?
Kumara Raghavan: Businesses have recognized that shifting to sustainable business practices offers an opportunity for new and innovative ideas. Therefore, the call for private-public collaboration on sustainable innovation is quite loud. And using cloud technology is one way to achieve this.
You can definitely use technology sensibly, and I think we’ll see more and more of that innovation in the future. And even in areas where technology hasn’t been accessible before, I think they will feel the impact one way or another. And I definitely see that as a growing trend in the coming period.
Watch the full interview here. You can also visit the ET Soonicorns Summit website to learn more about it